Hope in the new year

climate and health

Dear Friends,

There is enormous power in centering ourselves in hope. The Czech playwright Vaclav Havel wrote about hope in his autobiography Disturbing the Peace:

"Hope…is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.

The more unpromising the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper the hope is.

Hope is not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”

My colleagues and I know deeply that we need to transform the health care sector to address the social and environmental conditions that are making people sick in the first place, that we need to expand the healing mission of health care beyond individuals to healing communities and the planet. We know that the climate crisis is the greatest public health threat we have ever faced and that kicking our fossil fuel addiction is the best prescription for protecting the health of billions of people. We know we have a responsibility to defend the rights of people to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and have access to healthy food and safe housing as fundamental conditions for health.

We remain anchored in hope and the conviction that good people working together for a just cause can make miracles happen, even against formidable opponents in the darkest of times.

Despite federal agencies dismantling core environmental health regulations while the consequences of the climate crisis come home, other forces are stepping up to demonstrate leadership for a healthier future. Medical professionals are using their trusted voices to advocate for renewable energy policies and educate the public about the health impacts of climate change. Hospital systems around the world are committing to address the climate crisis in their own operations and supply chains. Businesses are increasingly regarding an unstable climate as a fundamental business risk. Students and faith-based organizations are becoming stronger and stronger advocates for a future which protects all beings. Cities are implementing policies to become climate-resilient.

As the year comes to a close,  I want to express my gratitude for our community – our colleagues and member organizations – working passionately together for healthy people on a   healthier planet. You are the heroes of this generation.

We wish you strength and hope in the new year.

Best wishes,

Gary Cohen
Founder and President

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